Residents of Emeritus at Lakewood had a rare opportunity to hear some live opera performed in-house.
James Wright, a baritone singer and artistic administrator with the Buffalo-based Nickel City Opera, serenaded Emeritus residents with selections from a variety of operas, and was met with a warm reception.
Dozens of residents turned out for the performance, which, according to Theresa Perrin, life enhancement coordinator for Emeritus, was unique in that it marked the first time in which a live opera performance took place within the building, and the first time a Buffalo-based performer made the trek to Emeritus at Lakewood.
James Wright, baritone singer and artistic administrator with the Buffalo-based Nickel City Opera, is pictured performing for residents of Emeritus at Lakewood on Thursday.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"Nickel City Opera called and said it was trying to bring the opera to the suburbs of Buffalo and the rest of Western New York," Perrin said. "They asked if I would be interested in having someone come here, and I said, 'Of course.'"
Formed in 2004 by Valerian Ruminski, a Buffalo native and nationally renowned opera singer, Nickel City Opera has the distinction of being the only year-round opera house operating in Western New York - with the next closest opera house being in the Glimmerglass and Saratoga Springs regions. According to Wright, Nickely City Opera is setting its sights on projecting its image into the surrounding region.
"We're trying to bring stuff down here (to Jamestown) more often," Wright said. "We're known as the Buffalo opera company, but we'd like to be the Western New York opera company. So, we want to get the word out so people are aware of it. The more people we can get to come, the more we can get them to realize that this is not amateur theater; this is the big time."
Wright, a 27-year-old Grand Island native, has been a Western New York resident for his whole life - earning a bachelor's degree in music education and a masters in voice performance from SUNY Fredonia. Despite his expertise in opera performance, he said he only truly became interested in opera four years ago, at the age of 23.
"I never wanted to be a singer, I wanted to be a music teacher; and I never really gave opera a chance," he said. "I saw one opera at the (Metropolitan Opera in New York City). It was (Richard Wagner's) "Das Rheingold," and I went because my favorite singer, Bryn Terfel, was in it. And afterward, I thought, 'Alright, this is way more amazing than I expected.' And I just kind of got hooked from there."
During his performance, Wright introduced each piece he performed by giving background information on the opera from which it originated, as well as background information on the Nickel City Opera itself. Afterward, he made himself available to talk with residents.
Wright said he hopes for the opportunity to return to the Jamestown area to perform.
"It's always good to sing for anybody that wants to hear you," he said. "I'd love to come back here and do this again, even in a less official Nickel City Opera capacity; just to come down and do a program."